- ByteDance’s new division, BytePlus, is set to sell the tech underpinning TikTok and its other apps.
- ByteDance’s Singapore office is believed to be in the final stages of hiring a BytePlus sales team.
- The news could concern those already worried about the reach of ByteDance’s tech through TikTok.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is preparing to sell the tech underpinning its wildly popular video app as business-to-business products, and is hiring to do it.
BytePlus, the newly launched arm of the company, offers products such as visual effects based on ByteDance’s expertise in computer vision, machine-translation tools, and a recommender system that looks to be a version of the one that powers TikTok, its Chinese sister app Douyin, and the news aggregator Toutiao.
Insider understands that hiring for sales positions in Singapore is at an advanced stage ahead of entry into the market later this year.
Since ByteDance’s founding in March 2012, the company, which has headquarters in Beijing, has undergone exceptional growth thanks to the technology underpinning its most popular apps, which is largely developed by engineering teams in China.
BytePlus appears to be a Westernized version of Volcengine, ByteDance’s Chinese-facing version of the B2B underlying tech offering.
The tech expert Rui Ma said the process is similar to Amazon, which “also insists that products are developed in a modularized fashion.”
“We can look forward to more such initiatives from ByteDance as they continue to execute on the strategy of productizing internal tools and products,” Ma added.
“This is the first time a Chinese company is trying to do this data-analytical business,” said Jian Lin of the University of Groningen, who has studied TikTok and ByteDance.
“By doing this, ByteDance wants to establish its infrastructural power on the global internet. It’s a very ambitious move,” Lin added.
Among the existing case studies on the BytePlus website, large parts of which have been launched in the past month, is Wego, a travel search engine in Singapore.
There is also XinXin, an online beauty store that uses BytePlus’ computer-vision tech to allow users to virtually try on items. XinXin is also a case study on Volcengine’s website.
The final case study is TikTok itself. To emphasize the power of ByteDance’s recommendation system, BytePlus claims TikTok saw a 20% increase in sign-up conversions for upcoming events when sending personalized messages to users who had previously engaged with similar content.
A ByteDance spokesperson declined to comment on BytePlus.
They also declined to say from where BytePlus customers would receive tech support, given that the company’s workforce is still predominantly in China.
This has fanned politicians’ concerns about the reach of the company and the potential for Western user data to be accessed by China’s ruling party.
There remains no evidence the Chinese state has ever accessed the Western user data on ByteDance’s apps. TikTok has maintained that it would refuse a request if asked.
The company has recently tried to diversify its engineering talent away from China, while maintaining its world-class technologies.
Insider previously reported that the company is seeking to hire talented students and academics studying natural language processing, computer vision and graphics, and speech recognition.
A separate initiative offered partnerships with academic institutions.
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